1. Start with A Leafy Green Base: the darker the green, the more nutritious. Be creative and try a new lettuce variety, especially if you’re stuck on Iceberg; Bibb, Red Leaf, and Romaine are always good options, or you can branch out and add spinach, kale, or other greens likes collards, mustard greens, or Swiss chard. My favorite is the Organic Girl brand at Publix (when I can’t get it from my own garden).
2. Add Some Color: I suggest at least one from each color group below…
- Something Red: grape tomatoes, red pepper, strawberries, pomegranate arils, sliced beets, dried cranberries, radishes, apples
- Something Orange or Yellow: bell peppers, carrots, banana peppers, mandarin oranges, mango salsa, corn
- Something Green: peppers, cucumbers, sprouts, green beans, granny smith apples, pears, zucchini, artichoke hearts, celery, broccoli, peas
- Something Blue or Purple: blueberries or other berries, purple cabbage, grapes, purple carrots, raisins
- Something White: mushrooms, onion, cauliflower, garlic or shallots
3. Add a Protein: this can be grilled chicken or salmon on top of the salad, or something simple like a half cup of rinsed and drained beans (kidney beans, black beans, whatever your favorite is), a hardboiled egg or an ounce of low-fat cheese.
4. Add a Healthy Fat Source: 1 Tbsp. of olive oil or chopped olives, ¼ avocado, or a small handful of nuts and/or seeds. You need healthy fat in your meal if you want to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins available in the rest of your salad!
5. Add Some Flavor: balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, fresh herbs, freshly cracked black pepper, etc. Stay away from high-sodium and saturated fat laden options. Something crunchy is always fun too (depending on what you’ve already added): whole wheat croutons, asian noodles, or these salad toppers from Oh She Glows are all fun ideas.
Bon Appetit! And Enjoy the Journey!